Sarah Emma Edmonds in the Spotlight

Sarah Emma Edmunds is an amazing woman who served in the Civil War pretending to be a male soldier. This spring two picture book biographies were published about this little-known hero.

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Carrie Jones and illustrated Mark Oldroyd
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix

The two books were both enjoyable. During a side-by-side comparison, there were slight differences in the stories. For example, Jones suggests that Sarah Edmonds ran away from her childhood home in Canada to get away from an abusive father whereas Moss indicates Sarah was trying to avoid an arranged marriage. It is very possible that both were the case.

Oldroyd’s darker illustrations give a more somber feel, appropriate for the Civil War. Hendrix’s illustrations are more cartoon-ish, but at the same time accurately depict the look of the era. Moss has included more pages in the back with a long author’s note and an extensive bibliography.

Looking at the recommended ages on Amazon (see below), Carrie Jones’ book is recommended for younger children, but it is quite similar to Moss’ in density of text and level of language. Seems like books with large illustrations are often assumed to be for younger children than is really the case.

Picking up both books and comparing them would be a great lesson in history, plus a lesson in how historical figures are portrayed. Once again, both these picture books would be a fabulous way for an older child or even adult to get a quick overview of an interesting person in history, and possibly leading them to a deeper pursuit of the topic.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0810997355
ISBN-13: 978-0810997356

Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Carrie Jones and illustrated Mark Oldroyd

Reading level: Ages 4-8
School & Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (April 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761353992
ISBN-13: 978-0761353997

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Chapter Book of the Day.


Comments

Sarah Emma Edmonds in the Spotlight — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind « Chapter Book of the Day

  2. I like the comparison of the two books in your review. This is excellent modeling for students having to compare two pieces of literature. I could use your review with my 5th graders.

  3. Seeing two books on the same topic come out at almost the same time was fortuitous, but I think it is a useful approach.

  4. I agree with the others commenting thus far…I really like the idea of sharing the two book simultaneously for the students to be able to compare. Some excellent critical thinking training!

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